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There are several options of where to place an item of literature which has been translated. The ‘Dewey rule’ states that all translations should be placed with the original language. So a novel in English which has been translated from Italian would be classed with the Italian novels and not the English novels. However, this is not always the place where readers will look or expect to find certain books. Therefore, this policy is commonly adapted by libraries. The UL policy is as follows:

1. Most commonly, the item is classed with books of the language that it has been translated into. For example, a book by Roddy Doyle which has been translated into Swedish would be classed with Swedish books and not with English ones.

2. If a department is studying a text, that text and all translations of it would be placed together.
e.g. If the Spanish department was studying ‘Don Quixote’ by Miguel de Cervantes, all books, both in the original Spanish and translations would be classed together.

3. If the library holds copies of books by one author in several languages, then the books will be classed together under the main language that the writer uses. For example, Marie-Claire Dewarrat is a Swiss novelist. The library holds several of her works. She writes in French. Her book ‘Der Winter des Kometen’ is a German translation. As we hold other books by this author, the above book is classed with French (843.914) as it is her main language rather than with German (833.914).

4. Some prolific and famous writers have their own Dewey number, e.g. Shakespeare = 822.33. Others have been placed together by UL library because they are so well-known. For example, works by the French dramatist Samuel Beckett should be classed with French dramatists under 842.91 regardless of the language that the work has been translated into.

5. This is a less common option. The literature of a country can be a great insight into its culture. So therefore, departments of languages which are difficult for English speakers to learn, such as Japanese may order in translations of books originally in Japanese to facilitate student learning. In such cases it is often helpful to follow the ‘Dewey rule’ and class such books with their original language.


06/12/06 CB


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